Relationships

Monthly Challenge #6: Try to Meditate

Meditation for Beginners

Do you ever meditate? We recently issued a challenge for anyone interested: Try to meditate for 10 minutes a day. This month, I gave it a shot and was surprised by what happened…

Research says that meditation is good for your brain, and my twin sister swears by it. But it has always intimidated me. Like many people, my mind is often whirring/spinning/racing, especially after a long day, so how could I even begin to calm it down?

Step 1: Trying on my own
I headed to my bedroom. I wanted a calm space — no kids, no husband — to relax and clear my brain. Lying down on the fluffy duvet, I resisted reaching for a magazine and instead tried to lie still and not think about anything. My breath slowed; my eyes closed. Yet every minute or two, I would find myself lost in thought: a work dilemma, a funny 30 Rock quote, whether we should have fish tacos for dinner (yes, obviously).

“Your mind is like a kindergarten class, and meditating is like trying to get your thoughts to take a nap,” said our friend Rayhané. “If one wakes up, tell them gently to go back to sleep. If your mind thinks, ‘But you have a to-do list!’ just say shhhh.”

I tried my best to quiet my inner five-year-olds. But they kept running around the room, and my meditation session felt more frustrating than relaxing.

Step 2: Finding a mantra

Retired math teacher Keith, who lives in Boston, has been meditating every single day since he was 21, for a grand total of 47 years. (That’s 17,155 times.) His advice? “Find a mantra.”

Every afternoon, Keith will close his eyes and mentally repeat a word for 20 minutes. The funny thing is, his family and friends can be watching TV, chatting and walking around in the same room — he can tune it all out. When he comes out of the meditation, he feels like it’s a brand new day. “Meditating has completely changed my life,” he says. “It has made me a calmer person.”

Inspired, I settled into a soft chair in our living room. But I then spent five minutes trying to find a good word I liked. Then started writing this post in my head… including these very words in this very sentence. Clearly, I needed more guidance.

Step 3: Downloading an app

My sister likes the app Headspace, and I’ve also heard good things about Calm. I downloaded the former and liked the idea of having a teacher. “Learning to meditate is like learning any other skill,” said the Headspace website. “It takes consistent practice to get comfortable.” Every morning for a week, I listened to the app, in which British co-founder Andy Puddicombe, who trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, leads a 10-minute session with breathing exercises.

“How much of your life do you spend in the present moment?” Puddicombe asked. That’s such a hard question to answer, don’t you think? “Are you sweeping the floor whilst thinking about something else that happened in the past or looking to the future, hoping something will happen in the future? Or are you simply present with the sound and the sensation of the broom?”

I want to hear the sound of the broom!

Inspired, I dove right into the app. And it felt so much easier than doing it on my own. You don’t actually need to rid your brain of thoughts while meditating, Puddicombe points out. Picture sitting next to a highway with cars passing by. You can sit there and notice the cars without focusing on any of them, or you can follow a car down the road. Bottom line: With meditation, the goal is to just observe your thoughts coming and going, without judgement.

Step 4: Mindfulness

After my week with Headspace, I began noticing moments of mindfulness in regular life. One evening, I took Toby and Anton to the playground. After a while, as they played happily on their own, I found myself feeling restless. So, channeling Puddicombe, I decided to take a moment to soak up the scene. I noticed a mural on a brick wall, trees swaying in the breeze, and a little boy wobbling on a balance bike. The night suddenly felt really special.

Two mornings later, I was meeting a friend for breakfast in Manhattan, and she was running late. Normally, I’d instinctually check my phone (one-second pause! = check my phone!), but instead I paused. The cool air felt good on my face; a father and son walked by; an arched doorway was newly painted black. I smelled the buttery toast two women were eating nearby and watched a flock of birds zigzag across a row of townhouses. When my friend arrived, my mind felt calm and clear.

The New York Times actually has a guide about how to be mindful in everyday situations — when you’re sick, in the shower, at the grocery store. And I loved this public transportation meditation exercise that feels so empathetic!

In the end, I’d like to keep practicing meditation, although it still seems pretty intimidating. But I’m already in love with the on-the-go anywhere-and-everywhere mindfulness that feels so good, simple and pure.

What about you? Do you meditate? What do you love about it? Any tips?

P.S. Happiness vs wholeness, and a trick for life.
P.P.S. Meditating at the Museum of Modern Art looks very cool!

(Darn good link via Kottke.)

  1. raynette aggabao says...

    Hi JO! Yes, I meditate….and to be quick about my main point of leaving a comment, I LOVE it and it is a game/life changer! I am a 34 ( soon to be 35) mama of two boys (soon to be 4 year old and a recently turned 2 year old). I started meditating when I was about 4 months pregnant with my youngest. I started off with Headspace. Coincidentally, I also started to listen to the podcast Untangled. The combination was a perfect match to keep me motivated and inspired to meditate. I go through phases of meditating regularly but it doesn’t take long for me to go right back to it. I definitely see a shift in myself when I do not meditate. I also acknowledge the times that I utilize the tools that I have learned from meditating. Ugh… I have so much to say about meditation and how it has been great for myself, my sons, my marriage and my relationship with everything that is important to me. But I think above everything, it’s the greatest gift I can give myself. 10 minutes a day of commitment to nothing but sitting and being. What mama doesn’t deserve that? Now, my meditation sessions are more about the 10 minute gift to myself then the idea of zen or an empty mind. I’m so happy that you have started to dabble with meditation. xo, ray

  2. lindsey says...

    I’ve been using Simple Habit for awhile and my fiance and I both love it. He started meditating years ago and introduced me to it shortly after we met – it has changed my life immensely. The point isn’t to not think about anything while meditating – that’s almost impossible – but to become aware of your thoughts. If you would like to learn more, read books by Eckhart Tolle or Michael Singer.

  3. Ranwin says...

    I started using Calm a few months ago and as you say, it has changed my life. I am calmer and more patient, and more aware of my surroundings.

  4. I have been meditating almost every day the last five Months. I started in the mornings for 5 minutes and now I am meditating for 15 minutes. As you, it is imposible for me meditate in the evening so I decided to do it in the mornings when my mind is calmer, for me the key is not to force myself with the time, just find a confortable moment in the day and do it for the time you feel is right for you, because meditation is about find love and compassion for yourself and the others, so the practice should be like that :)

  5. Ivav says...

    Forget the apps. I am 60 yrs old and have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 42 years, twice per day, every day. It has become the cornerstone of my existence. I would suggest seeking out a local TM center or going to tm.org to find one. An app cannot provide a mantra that is suited specifically for you. It must be YOUR PERSONAL mantra.
    Think of an ocean…turbulent on top…calm below. This is ultimately where you want to be. A correct mantra will be your medium to transcend to the depths of calm and tranquility.
    Happy Journeys…

  6. I did this meditation challenge last month and am continuing this month. Yesterday, just meditation for 7 minutes felt like forever. I checked the timer to see if it was still working? But I already feel the inkling of something, and it’s compelling. I wrote about it last week, and I plan to keep going. Finally, while I’ve wanted to meditate for years, two books really pushed me over the edge in terms of thinking it could quantifiably change my life: 10% Happier and Into the Magic Shop. Into the Magic Shop is such a wonderful read. Amy

  7. P says...

    ohhh. . the wonders of meditation..i can write an essay on it. It trully heals you, immersed in dark trauma-related times i went to meditation, something i have already did a couple times before, since being a kid, for a while. It was what sooth me, i did therapy, short time, never got the rhythm (not the type to vomit” in front of strangers or like having external “dear diary” conversations). so, really M and mantra-singing did it for me, lots of silence contemplation and so on, and im healed.truly. i even look at the people who hurt me w/o hate, nor bitter anger feels. Meditation is like a door in-side you, the stillness the calm. I’ve taken back the practice 3 years ago, its a daily thing (with pre-game” morning quick M-routine also) and has lead to total mental meltdown. THE GOOD KIND! i do no judge exterior, people, things, nor compare, or fear. There is just mind-silence, at least whenever i’m NOT using my executive/creative skills. Meditation is truly the door, u choose whether you go through it, or not.

  8. Mindfulness is simple but many of us are unsure how to bring more into our lives, so I wrote a book that shares dozens of quick mindfulness practices that can be used in the midst of full days— Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms.

  9. Tip: Meditation is not something you can or can’t do. Meditation is what happens when you stop doing everything else.

  10. Jenna says...

    Here is another resource for anyone interested! I love this teacher’s meditations and wish I would have been introduced earlier in my meditating life, as her approach has really made all the difference for me. She is fun, honest, and effective. She has several free meditations on Insight Timer, found here: https://insighttimer.com/tatumfjerstad?_branch_match_id=362335086826967575 and also a wonderful program called Move Sit Write (just what it sounds like!) on her website, which I have used and loved for years. Hope you check it out and enjoy! https://www.tatumfjerstad.com/store/move-sit-write

  11. LindyO says...

    Always thought that church used to bring that inner peace to my mom, the mother of six. It was that one hour a week that was totally hers. And no matter what, we were going. No excuses.
    We always had to arrive 45 minutes early. We sat as a family in quiet, open to wonder, admiring the architecture and stained glass windows, and faintly listening to the organist warming up. Mom took the time to put some lipstick on and a nice outfit. It helped her to plug into herself and her community. Really wonderful memories.

    Just thinking that in general we don’t take the some to sit and listen to our inner selves and decompress, no distractions. We need to carve out that time, a few minutes here and there, or an hour once a week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, lindyo.

  12. Tara Brach has a wonderful online collection of meditations and dharma talks that she delivers most weeks for free in the Bethesda, MD area. They are wonderful in thinking about not only the act of meditating, but incorporating some of the principles of mindful living through a Buddhist lens into our daily lives, and all of the thoughts/emotions/events that happen. http://www.tarabrach.com

    I also have been loving the Breathing App, created by Deepak Chopra, Eddie Stern, Sergey Varichev, and Moby, which, through various breath rates, encourages the body to reach a state of resonance, where “heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, and brainwave function come into a coherent frequency.” http://ayny.org/breathing-app/

    Last, there are so, so many amazing meditation centers that offer meditation retreats, both within the United States and outside. For anyone who is an educator, healthcare provider, or full-time artist who might be interested in attending a longer retreat, the Hemera Foundation offers fellowships to help in offsetting the cost for attending a retreat. I received one and am grateful to be attending a retreat in a month! From what I can tell retreats are a great way to get at the deep, deep work of learning to meditate. https://hemera.org/

    • Laura says...

      Thank you for posting the link to the Hemara website! I hope to be able to attend a workshop in the future, and their support would make that much more likely!

  13. Love this! I’ve taken up yoga to help with stress and balance in life. I really enjoy the meditation part of it too. At first, I could not even grasp the concept of noticing a thought and letting it go. It just did not make sense to me that doing that was even possible.

    After a couple of weeks in though, I realized that I was able to do that more and more easily. With that freedom came the freedom to let feelings of frustration and self-doubt go too. It made it a lot easier to empathize with people’s situations without jumping on an emotional bandwagon of negativity or toxicity.
    I love how you integrated it into your daily life. That’s next on my list as I continue to gain a toolbox for de-stressing midday. :)

  14. Dmarie says...

    Just keep at it and your inner self will remind you ever so gently to stop and pause. Anytime you pause will be a heads up that you gave yourself time to clear your head. ??

  15. AC says...

    I brought a tai chi instructor into work this week and she taught us some great relaxation and meditation techniques that were super quick (1 breath meditation) and easy to do at the office. It makes such a difference to break up your day like this!

  16. Autumn says...

    Try the evenflow app!

  17. So glad you had a positive experience. I’ve meditated every day this year and it’s been life changing. One small example I thought you’d appreciate: I stopped biting my nails…without even trying. I just feel SO much more inner peace.

    I just did a weekend meditation retreat (I’m truly all in) and the leader (Lacy Young) shared these 5 meditation essentials:

    1. You have to be kind; do not judge yourself.
    2. Let go of expectations.
    3. Let it be easy. Gentle and relaxed, no efforting.
    4. Thoughts are natural; do not attach.
    5. Stick with it!

    Honestly, these are good rules for meditation AND life :) and Lacy has some awesome free meditations on Sound Cloud if you’d like to check those out!

  18. Bailey says...

    So happy you mentioned having a mantra. I had a tough time really, truly meditating (rather than worrying/thinking with my eyes closed) until I did Gabrielle Bernstein’s 40 day practice from her “May Cause Miracles” book.
    It is tough to stick to for 40 days straight, but the mantras help me so much to get in the zone and often carry over into my day in difficult situations. Some favorites are:
    “I am grateful for this moment”
    “Forgiveness offers me everything I want”
    “I choose to see love”
    Also inhaling “I believe in abundance”, and exhaling “I release my fear”

    • I discovered Gabrielle Bernstein last week, and I have been listening to many of her vlogs. I am in awe of her and can’t wait to read some of her books I have on order! So happy to see her mentioned and had to give a little shout out of recognition (:

  19. Laura says...

    Thank you for this challenge! I feel like mediation and mindfulness are so important. I have been trying to get consistent with it for a couple of years but always seem to let it slip after a couple weeks. I have finally hit a 45 day streak and really see my self keeping this up indefinitely :)

    The Calm App helped me get rid of my preconceived notions of how to do it properly. Some of the techniques I have learned which I found most helpful:

    – Labeling – when you notice yourself getting caught up in a thought, label it ruminating, planning, daydreaming, etc. Then let it go.
    – Don’t Judge – some days I feel like I have gotten carried away in thought for the whole 10 minutes. That’s fine, I keep going, I’ll come back tomorrow or later if I can. But it’s the act of recognizing what’s happening that’s important.
    – Sound – I always meditate to the crackling fire sound in the background and I now find it very soothing even when I am not meditating.

    I also made up my own visualization for when I am having trouble letting go of a thought. I think I got the idea after reading a post here a while back using a stop sign but I imagine a balloon. Once I have recognized the thought I imagine it as a balloon that I let go of and I watch it drift away into the sky.

    I recently found that I no longer need as much guidance as I get from the app but I still like including it as I love the little nuggets of wisdom I get at the end of a session and I even pin my favorite quotes. If I need a pick me up I spin through them for some reminders or motivation.

    PS. I really love the community you have created here. I’ve only started posting comments in the past few weeks but have been reading since I discovered your Motherhood Around the World series while nursing my baby girl in 2013. Reading your updates here feels like getting a warm note from an old friend.

  20. Patty says...

    I agree with doing yoga to prepare, but also to keep busy minds occupied with something to do. When I’m doing yoga, the only thing I’m focused on is the feeling of my body at that moment; the feel of my spine elongating, the deep sensation of a stretch or how much it hurts my knees when I squat. At the end, I lay on my mat in Shavasana and talk to myself in my head. I know that’s not actual meditation, but it’s living in the moment. It’s being where I am and focusing on what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. It always feels pretty great!

  21. Sarah says...

    I highly recommend a technique called SKY Meditation (stands for Sudarshan Kriya). It made meditation so accessible and effortless for me. I’ve been doing it ten years now, and over that time my parents, husband, and so many friends have also taken up the practice after witnessing how much lighter I’ve become.

    It’s taught all over the world by the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values.

  22. I would recommend doing some yoga before meditating! Yoga developed as a preparation for meditation–making sure the body was loose and limber and stable enough to sit for long hours in a meditative state. Not many people are going for the long hours gig, but I find that doing 15-20 minutes of some slow easy yoga and THEN meditating is much more fruitful than just trying to slip right into meditation. Yoga gets out energy and kinks and calms your breathing and gets you into that space of clearing the mind. Then, the transition into meditation is much more seamless. Namaste, and happy meditating!

  23. Hilary Stoner says...

    I recently heard a saying that “mad is the bodyguard of sad.” I have found that often I battle with the bodyguard at length before I can acknowledge and then process the sadness. I have taken to practicing mindfulness and meditation. My most meaningful take-away is when I am confronted with hurt or frustration, meditation helps me side-step the anger bodyguard and engage with the sadness faster and less painfully than before.

    • Eliza says...

      Whoa.

    • Kelly says...

      Whoa x 2.

  24. Lamah says...

    I am so happy you’re trying meditation! I think it’s life saving in this restless world. I started meditating doing the “Transendental meditation” technique. You reach a teacher through their website, and you pay a fee the training (It varies from country to another, I did it here in Egypt, so it was relatively cheap). The teacher guides you through the meditation process and gives you a specific mantra just for you. It’s basically a word that is a sound that has no meaning. You’re supposed to repeat it in your head for 20 minutes twice daily. The more you meditate the more you reach moments of stillness, where you stop saying the mantra and you just be. It’s amazing. The other thing that helped a lot and is changing my life every day, is reading the book “The Power of Now”. Reading this book is changing my life every single day. It’s a small book, but very dense. I am a very fast reader and it took me 6 months to finish it. Because of this book when I meditate I no longer need to use a mantra, I close my eyes and I am just there :). I can’t recommend it enough :).

  25. Anne says...

    3 years ago I was really into headspace – but I got a bit too mixed up in the sticker chart motivation of the golden sticker chart motivation (and frustrated when I disn‘t make it past 362 days ;)) somehow that spoilt the app for me ;) though it was really good for me. I am back now with another app, because I miss those golden moments each day. What I‘ve observed- don‘t make it too complicated. Yes, I should prioritize mindfulness, but if I only get to do it in the evening and fall asleep – well at least I fell asleep fast. There is stuff I am naturally mindful – climbing, singing, sometimes dancing – singing along to the radio while cooking is probably not a zen buddhist meditation exercise but clears out backchatter. And the best everyday exerise moment – brushing my teerh without running around, packing my bag or organizing the next day. Just standing. It‘s funny how hard it is!

  26. Edie says...

    The timing of this challenge was… timely! Just before, I’d gone back to a CoJ Friday link to Edith Zimmerman’s “My First Year Sober.” That cartoon had stuck with me and I’d been curious to find the book she read. Allen Carr’s “Stop Drinking Now” (not so subtle haha) totally clicked for me too and I have been vino-less since. Day one into that new era, the challenge popped up and of course it was a total no-brainer that the new me would also meditate. I was pretty consistent starting out (using Insight Timer), and although those 30 days had some real personal stressors happening, I remained really level headed. I believe that the meditation was a large part of my calm in the storm. Around the end of the challenge, I started listening to nighttime guided meditation/sleep hypnosis instead which is great, but not really the same. Once again, this is a timely reminder to prioritize 10 (wakeful) minutes. Thanks so much Cup of Jo, for the hugely positive impact on my life. I am so grateful! xoxo

    • Vivian says...

      The same thing happened to me with regards to alcohol. I read the Annie Grace book This Naked Mind. I can safely say that I will never drink again and also that I will never want to. It should be required reading.

    • Edie says...

      Hooray, Vivien! Yeah, I was burying the lede there ;). I’ll look up The Naked Mind! Agreed, it was surprising to learn a book existed that could completely reframe everything I believed about both drinking and not drinking.

  27. Melissa says...

    I’ve been a CoJ reader for 7 years now and have never commented. I believe as humans we’re here to help, support, and teach each other on this life journey. My rather inconsistent practice in meditation has led me to find the Pacifica app–developed by psychologists. This app incorporates “cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness meditation. ” It’s great in that you can document your mood and habits with (optional repeated) daily check-ins, then reframe your thoughts and behavioral patterns, and finally meditate on improving your mindset. It’s empowering and helps with creating a consistent schedule of meditation. Oh and I also use a little bit of hypnotherapy, based on a January 2018 article in The Atlantic (January 2018). Both of these tools really help combat anxiety and depression.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, melissa! this is so helpful to learn about. and it’s so nice to “meet” you :)

  28. Claire says...

    I do meditate, and it does usually make my mind calmer and clearer. I try different techniques, but have not yet tried an app because I like silence, but I may give one a test run based on the feedback here. I am trying to navigate some life changes so I’ve been using Deepak Chopra’s suggestion to ask 3 questions during the meditation: Who am I? What is my heart’s desire? What is my purpose? ( except since questions about “purpose” can frustrate me, I’ve changed this question to be instead “What is my next step?”)

  29. karen says...

    Don Draper, I miss you! A few years ago mindfulness was suggested to me to help with chronic vertigo. I took a 4 session course with a great teacher and then was lucky enough to have him again for a course through work. But, I just couldn’t do it on my own. I tried the headspace app for free. I think it gives you 10 free sessions. And I actually did them so I bought the app. Pricey, but I love Andy and there are meditations for kids! My 5 year old son and I have been doing the 3 min body scan & 3 min focus for 30 days straight! He is pretty pleased with himself.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, your five-year-old! what a dollface :)

  30. Em says...

    I went to a catholic school as a child and had long stretches of saying the rosary either as a class or as a school. I loved it because it was a nice break from school work yet I also found it incredibly boring. But the magic in saying the same words over and over is that your mind will start to go completely blank. For years I thought I wasn’t doing it right because I couldn’t concentrate on the words I was saying. Then at about 18, someone told me- no you were doing it right. Prayer is just meditation. You’re supposed to let your mind go blank. Even the way the rosary is structured allows for your breath and mind to get into a rhythm. It was an ah-ha moment. I wouldn’t call myself a practicing catholic now but things like that allow me to see the real benefits to different religions.

    • Sanaa Murray says...

      I love this! We do the same thing with prayer beads as Muslims and I never quite looked at it as meditation but you are SO right, that exactly what it is. Dusting off my old prayer beads now

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love these insights, thank you for sharing xoxo

  31. Lola says...

    my yoga teacher gave me the best advice during meditation:
    every thought that comes into your head… imagine it is floating inside a cartoon thought bubble. acknowledge the thought and then ‘pop’ the bubble. I can visually see every thought and pop them away. It is so helpful and truly helps calm my mind!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, lola! going to try it.

    • I actually tried this last night when I was attempting to fall asleep (third trimester insomnia has gotten me this time around!) and it was lovely! One of the thought bubbles was literally me thinking about this article, haha. It was one of the last thoughts I remember so maybe it worked :)

      Thanks for the tip! I love a good visualization. I think it could work well for my anxiety as well – picturing the things that are making me anxious, acknowledging them in turn, and then ‘popping’ them and sending them on.

  32. Denise says...

    Please, commuters of the world, don’t soft-focus and meditate loving thoughts to me on the bus! There’s way too much creepiness on public transit already.

    • Em says...

      Hahaha

  33. Abbey says...

    Yes! I LOVE that you’re practicing and encouraging your community to as well. Meditation is magic. I love your description of how the night suddenly felt special when you experienced your conditions mindfully.
    I’ve been a meditator since I was a teenager but in recent years have really established a solid daily practice.
    Tips I discovered work for me? First, I meditate very first thing in the morning. Only a sip of water or urgent pee will get between my first waking thought and meditating. Our whirring whizzing minds hit the ground running but if I can wedge meditation between that first waking thought and the rest of the morning it really creates momentum in a totally different, open way. Instead of a runaway train I feel like I’m on a gliding swan boat… at least for a little while ;)
    My other tip is for people who are not into mantras. In lieu of a word to focus on I will focus on a sound in my immediate vicinity. Something gentle and repetitive becomes that center of my attention and it also takes my word-obsessed mind out of the equation because the sound is coming from “outside.” A whirring fan, running water (i.e. a fountain or stream if you’re so lucky), or just a white noise app. Those are my go-tos.

    • Abbey says...

      One more thing! Great interview with the Headspace co-founder on Russell Brand’s podcast: https://youtu.be/A_ASK5JO7AQ

  34. Nora says...

    I really loved one of the comments in an article you linked to a few weeks ago about the best things people learned from therapy about dealing with anxiety. Someone’s therapist told her to center herself in a given moment by seeking out five things she sees, four things she hears, three things she feels, two things she smells and one thing she tastes. I do this sometimes when I’m at the playground with my son now to help me focus on just being present and not worrying about things on my to-do list, and I’ve even done it with him when he’s trying to calm himself down – what’s one thing you can hear right now? what’s one thing you can smell? You’re right that it’s not just calming to focus on your surroundings like this, it actually helps you feel more connected.

    • Em says...

      That comment struck me too! I did it and it totally worked. Although I just picked 11 random things I sensed because I couldn’t remember the formula. But by golly, it worked!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so so glad it’s working for you guys. and what a great idea to try this with kids; that’s really sweet, nora.

  35. Joanna,
    The Vajradhara Meditation Center on Atlantic Avenue has great meditation classes and lectures, and they are only $15 per class. The teacher Matthew Reichers gives incredibly articulate, thoughtful, and inspiring lectures tailored to non-Buddhists as well as Buddhists, and also leads meditations. I highly recommend it!

  36. I recently started meditating too. I’ve noticed that social media/working in digital media have given me the attention span of a five year old. In an effort to be a thoughtful, mindful, appreciative person again, I’ve been doing 5-10 minutes every morning immediately when I wake up. It’s easier first thing. There’s less in my head and I can just be.

    P.S. Does anyone else feel like meditation can make you feel very mildly high? If I’m doing it regularly and really starting to pay attention to the world around me… it feels like I’m a tiny tiny bit stoned. Sensations are stronger, emotions are a little more intense, and I have a greater focus.

  37. brianna says...

    I have the Insight Timer app on my phone, but I’ve never used it. I may have to give it a go tonight.

    • Yes! I love this app, I hope you give it a try! I started with just 3 minutes a day – did that for a week and then added a minute a week. I do 8-10 minutes a day now. Even just those few minutes make a difference.

  38. Marisa says...

    I started using Headspace more regularly after you issued your challenge earlier this year! And, it has really helped me to approach stressful situations with a calmer, more clear mindset. This has been especially helpful because I’m planning my wedding this September and we just got a new puppy! It’s a process that takes a lot of work and effort to be more mindful, but it has really helped with my anxiety. Trying to get my fiance to try it out too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so great, marisa.

  39. Anne says...

    My partner got me into meditation and I’ve been doing it pretty consistently for the past 2 years. We make it a part of our morning routine. I meditate each weekday morning after breakfast. He sits for longer, so I’m usually joining him in the last 5-10 minutes. Some days are better than others. I think showing up is half the battle, but once you are there just a few breaths can make a difference. We use the insight timer app, which works just fine. It tracks your progress which can be a help or a hindrance, depending on what you like (I usually ignore the stats, but I just checked and I’ve meditated 661 times in the past two years–wow!!). They have guided meditations, but I just use it for the timer. I’d be curious to try some of the apps mentioned here.

  40. Janice says...

    This might help those of you struggling with trying to clear your minds and focus. A form of yoga that is like a guided meditation is called iRest Yoga Nidra. It is being used to help people with PTSD and those with chronic pain. The point is that the pain may still be there but you can learn to control your reaction and response to it. https://www.irest.us/

    • I agree, an incredibly useful tool- for ptsd – but also for just finding that contentment we all seek. I’ve been using the steps for myself and for students (of yoga) – and found it to be so affective- especially for those who find silence difficult. A guided meditation can be very powerful.

  41. After many many years of thinking about meditating (that’s almost the same, right?? lol) I saw Insight Timer last October, got it and just started. I was doing, and still usually do, my 1st meditation of the day in bed as soon as I wake up and grab my phone. I will soon have 6 months straight and cannot imagine not doing it. I vary the instructors but prefer sound only when I pick a ‘sleep’ meditation at night. It’s funny but I’ve come to enjoy the Australian women’s voices the most. I usually vary the mediation from 5ish to 20 minutes depending on my morning. I also try to listen to a talk after lunch when I’m on the computer – I’m retired – so I can create digital art as well as hear something helpful. Come June I plan to do more meditation with the timer – mostly, mostly, my mind is fairly calm these day. Just doing it is the hardest part but once a person starts and gets through that first week, I think something clicks and you realize how simple it is. Simple but profound.

  42. I’m in if I get to meditate next to Don Draper. I think I need to watch that series again… for the 4th time.

  43. Jacqueline says...

    Try Emily Fletcher’s online course Ziva Online. It’s simple and it works. She also teaches in New York.

  44. edie says...

    Re: waiting for your friend who was running late.

    Whenever I’m waiting for friends, I try to not look at my phone, too. Instead I bring a book with me wherever I go and it becomes the thing I pull out when people are running behind. It puts me in a different headspace….plus, gives me more to discuss, “I read in this book…”

  45. Sue Harris says...

    Yes! I started using Headspace a couple years ago and also have used Calm.com. I generally meditate 15 minutes a day, before bed. Sometimes in the morning too. And I have found the SOS meditations on Headspace are very useful when anxiety is spiking. These days, I need it more than ever.

  46. Heather says...

    I am reading Puddicombe’s “A Mindful Pregnancy” and it is so helpful! I have never meditated before, but pregnancy brings with it so many whirring thoughts and emotions, I felt I needed something. I really want to enjoy this time in my life, and be present. Also, once the baby arrives, being able to be calm and mindful will most certainly help in otherwise stressful situations! So far, it’s difficult. My mind is all over the place. But I do notice moments where I’d otherwise want to get upset (on the subway in the morning when no one offers me a seat, etc.), that I am more mindful and just try to find a place of calm. I think it’s working!

    • Elizabeth says...

      I’m pregnant too and needing some mind-calming so badly – I had no idea about this book! I’m a big fan of the Headspace app and I am gonna grab this book asap. Thank you for mentioning it!!

  47. I choose a monthly challenge or a good habit and last month it was meditation. I wanted to be able to sit still and w/o doing anything for at least 3 minutes. It did not work. I’ve also tried different apps and mantras. Maybe it’s just not for everyone?

    This month I’m doing 30 days of yoga!!!

  48. Shannon says...

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said mindfulness. I’m not into meditation but I’m very into mindfulness. And we can use whatever helps us get there – like meditation, or simply pausing, or not picking up our phones.

    • Lily says...

      Agree!

  49. Caroline says...

    How timely–I set a 30 day goal for daily meditation and just last night, met it! I use Headspace and love the encouraging direction to keep me from completely veering off course and into my own thoughts; I also find his voice very…sexy?
    Some days I could manage a 10 minute session, and some days it was just a 3 minute “mini” before going to bed, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I can already feel a difference in my day to day life.
    I am due with my first child this fall, and figured this was a good time to start a habit of mindful self-care that I can carry through after the baby arrives. Fellow pregnant people: they even have a “Pregnancy Pack.”

    • Wow! Congrats: so impressive. I had a similar goal last month and only lasted a few days ;/ Maybe I’ll try again.

  50. Kristy says...

    Something my therapist has taught me, is to connect with my body by placing one hand on my chest (heart) and one on my belly (skin to skin contact is even better!) and take deep breaths down into the belly (not just my chest – which is super hard for me, for some reason). The deep breaths help calm my brain and the connection with my hands helps me stay present.
    The hardest part – as always – is just doing it!

  51. Kelli says...

    I love the Headspace app! One suggestion that he made, which I absolutely love, is to take note each time you stand up or sit down- to be mindful of that change in position. It sounds so simple, and I almost scoffed when I heard it- I figured I could do it no problem! As it turns out, it is SO much more difficult than it sounds! I think this is such a wonderful small yet challenging exercise to bring mindfulness into your every day life. It’s been at least a month since I heard that suggestion, and I would say I’ve succeeded in noting my position changes maybe half a dozen times. But I’m still trying- it’s a work in progress :)

  52. Julia says...

    For me, sitting down and conentrate on my breath in my quiet living room was already too much of a challenge… My breath seemed stuck somewhere in my chest, I could not bring it to flow through my body, and felt rather uncomfortable (any advice on this???). Well, I admit, it was a first attempt, I probably expected too much!? The soft version of cooling down now is listening to a calm music peace while lying on the sofa and doing nothing else.

  53. Mindfulness has provided the most substantial relief from anxiety I’ve ever found. While my thoughts are still far from perfect, I’ve noticed a big difference.

    I’ve found that meditation has taught me how to notice a scary thought, one that would normally cause me significant panic or anxiety, and remember that I can live with it. I can sit with the panicky thought and still be productive, cheerful, and okay. This realization and practice has been a huge blessing.

    • Alex says...

      Love this, for me it’s been very similar.

    • Ruth says...

      Yes, this! We all have anxious and unpleasant thoughts. The key is to finding a way to live with them.

  54. MB says...

    Some days I don’t have time for a full 10-15 minute mediation (I have to admit I prioritise reading in bed at the end of a long day), but I do try to do at least one of the 1, 2, or 3 min meditations available on Headspace as soon as I put my daughter down for her nap. I find even that grounds me and helps me maintain a more mindful approach the remainder of the day.

    Also I wanted to say thank you for sharing the the ‘aim for yes’ parenting approach – I’ve found it really helpful in these tricky toddler moments!

  55. Sarah says...

    Don’t “try” to not think. Nothing should be forced. Instead, FOCUS on the breath and only the breath. You will get distracted, your mind will wander. Go back to the breath, over and over again. It’s impossible to “clear the mind,” plus this isn’t the point of meditation anyway. It’s a common misconception and a reason why many people quit – they fee like they have failed if their mind isn’t free of thoughts. You’re missing the point if that’s the end goal. And it’s called a practice for a reason.

  56. I love to pray the rosary in the morning as I nurse my baby. As I pray, I think about myself as detached from anything, as newly made, completely in God’s hands. It is so freeing. My mind does wander a lot but ever since I started this habit, I have noticed more peace of mind during the day.

    • Kim says...

      I was raised Catholic, no longer practicing, but love to use mala beads for meditation, probably because they harken back to my rosary days. I like to work my way through the beads saying that day’s intention for each one. It’s also a good “timer” for me because when you’ve worked your way around you’re done!

  57. I recommend Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier about how he got into it and how it affected his life and happiness. He spun it into a podcast too, though I’ve never actually listened. But the book is great!

    • Jhd says...

      Agreed. That opened my eyes to meditation. Will definitely check out the podcast. Thanks!

  58. B says...

    I just wanted to add a vote for the Calm app. I find it incredibly soothing and I have spent seven hours meditating in the month since I subscribed! I have never meditated so consistently in my life, and certainly did not imagine it was possible now, with a toddler and full-time job. I love their guided meditations, especially the series (21 day, 7 day, etc) for people like me who have some anxiety in their lives. The guided meditations are great before bed — I actually looked into the app in part because I had been having trouble getting to sleep. I love the visual of seeing the calendar that shows how many days I have meditated this month, also. I loathe subscribing to apps — the extra expense, couldn’t I find a lower cost way to do this on my own?, etc. — but this has been totally worth it for me.

  59. Since a few years now, I have been completing the Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 days meditation challenges. They are very good: they focus on a certain topic and each meditation begins with introductory words from Chopra and Oprah, has its own allocated mantra and perfect music to relax. The whole thing takes 20 min. The more recent meditation challenge was on “shedding the weight”, literally and figuratively, I found it excellent.

    Whenever I’m having trouble meditating by myself, which I do by counting from 1 to 10 and from 10 to 1 and setting a meditation timer, I find momentum once again with these guided meditations.

    Good luck and all the best!

  60. Julie says...

    Try praying. Works even better. :)

  61. Robyn says...

    I’ve been meditating for over 5 years. When I came to terms that trying to mediate was a half-hearted attempt to do it and realized meditation isn’t a calm checked out happy space but a time to check in my practice deepened. The books and apps that I have found helpful are Dan Harris’ two books, Joseph Goldstein’s books and Sharon Salsburg’s books. From them I learned meditation isn’t about not thinking or being annoyed etc but noticing and being aware that you are. A gentle awareness and then letting it be. When you become aware that is the practice. Noticing that thoughts and feelings are ephemeral. Every time you notice a thought or emotion and then you return to the breath that is the practice.

  62. Jane Clarkson says...

    My favorite Meditation teacher is Kate James from Australia. She can be found on the free Insight app which also has so many types of meditations and teachers to try so you can find the one that resonates with you. Can highly recommend Kate James she is so natural and calm.

    • I like her a lot too!

  63. Frances says...

    I like the mantra ‘Rising… Falling…’ as you breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.. It helps keep me focused on the breath :)

  64. Keri says...

    I took a relaxation and meditation class during my undergrad. We learned a lot of different types of meditation and the one that resonated with me was progressive relaxation. You tense up particular muscles and then relax them… and here is the key… focus on the feeling of relaxation, of that part of your body feeling warm and heavy. It’s stress relieving, makes me aware of where I am holding tension and helps me get to sleep!

    Our teacher also made us learn to juggle because as he said “you can’t think of anything else at the same time as you are juggling… you have to just juggle”

  65. Colette says...

    I’ve trained as a yoga and meditation teacher and still swear by Headspace for my own practice. It helps guide me, especially when there are a million ideas or heavy thoughts flowing through my head, just like you and many other readers have mentioned!

    A side note with cool news is that Headspace has partnered with quite a few airlines recently! They’re offering in-flight meditation downloads to help you sleep, calm anxiety, etc. Other apps/ companies have partnered with airlines, as well, and I just find it so cool! Really proud, and glad, that we get to live in a world where incredible tools like meditation that must’ve seemed so foreign to even our parents, are so widely available and accepted. Lots of draining news in the world these days, but accessibility to meditation is not one of them!

  66. Alex says...

    Thank you for this post. I practice zen meditation regularly so I have a few tips for you – first, if it is possible, it would be really great to find a real, live teacher. The experienced, mindful, wise person who can give you the very motivation and information you need right in the moment. Second, there’s no good or bad meditation. Meditation is just what it is. In fact it’s not supposed to CHANGE anything, it’ s supposed to teach you ACCEPT everything that comes and goes. To realize that everything is temporary. The only thing you need to do is observing everything that’s happening and every time you get distracted, just come back to your breath. It’s like “thought – inhale, exhale, inhale – thought, emotion, fuck, inhale, exhale….” you get my point. You should try to focus on the sensation of your breath inside your body. How it’s travelling through your body….it’s really just about observing and accepting. Every positive effect comes on it’s own, without you even noticing or trying. Trust this. There is nothing to want, nothing to gain, nothing to change…just see and accept every moment, this present moment such as it is :). Love, Alex

  67. karen says...

    I started headspace last december and loved it right away. It reminded me to take care of myself during our stay with my family at christmas and be more honest with myself about what I’m feeling. Don’t get me wrong, this is not because I thought about this stuff during meditation but instead because it felt revolutionary to take 10 minutes every day just for me- not beeing productive. I was atonished how quickly other things changed- suddenly having this moment of calm and kindness towards my stressed-out self, instead of obsessing. It feels like a sacred pause and I’m so thankful I stumbled across it. If I’m in a hurry I sometimes just do one of the mini meditations and feel so good afterwards. The past few months have been difficult and sad for many reasons and I often felt that my meditation was a little island inmidst of chaos. So every minute spent meditating feels like a reset button and makes me feel more awake, focused and open to my needs. I highly recommend it! As I said a few times in the last months: I’m astonished what 10 minutes a day can change and even more astonished that I often feel almost naughty to claim those 10 minutes for myself. Isn’t that ridiculous?

  68. jillian says...

    Just push through the first pack on Headspace and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it… at least that’s been my experience.

  69. jill says...

    People feel intimidated by meditation because they judge themselves for not becoming yoda immediately after their first session ever. It is about the work, not the reward. We’ve forgotten that and it really helps to remember, instead. Anyhoo, this is a great challenge idea!

  70. Emma says...

    Smiling Mind is an Australian app and it’s great. Also used in schools here and their Facebook page is informative with good articles too.

  71. Julia says...

    I’ve been using the calm app for about two years now and I try to meditate daily. Sometimes a couple of minutes breathing, sometimes a guided 20-minutes meditation. It has helped me to be calmer in situations where I would go mad (or sort of go mad) althought me being stressed would/could not change the situation – like a traffic jam, a broken subway on commute.
    I started to meditate while working in the crazy world of advertising and I had a growing uncomfortable big knot of worry, anger and frustration in my tummy that wasn’t feeling good. It surprised me but starting to meditate in the evening helped to untangle this workrelated knot. And that feels so good.

  72. Laura says...

    I read this earlier at work and thought ‘Hmm, interesting, cool, not for me’

    …and then… I came home frustrated, short of breath and worrying about the smallest details of our upcoming trip… and thought…’Hmmm, interesting, cool… maybe I’ll try this.” Downloaded Headspace, did a 5 minute meditation and immediately felt lighter, calmer and WOW, a convert. Thank you for this exceptionally timely post!!

  73. I love the guided meditations on InsightTimer. It has been instrumental in my practice. I highly recommend.

  74. Kate says...

    Last summer my office did a three week daily guided meditation practice. I felt like I got better at it, but it was still tough for me, especially in the middle of the work day, to not be making mental lists, etc. BUT, in the final week, I went to give blood. I have anxiety and my pulse is often rapid. They told me my pulse was too fast to donate, but they could give me a couple minutes and try again. I was like, ok, it’s showtime!, and literally launched into meditation until they came back. My pulse had lowered by ten points!!! It was such a wild reminder that it really is all “in your head” and so cool to see the practice in effect – it felt very empowering.

  75. Caitlin says...

    I’m a sophomore at MIT and took a meditation class this semester that surprisingly counted towards my PE requirement! Every class, we would try a different type of meditation: focusing on different sounds, feelings, even tastes! The strangest one to me was a walking meditation. The instructor had us walk around the room in a circle and focus on the feeling of our feet on the ground.

  76. i think it’s all just a fantastically beautiful thing for us to explore these “challenges” and give ourselves grace in doing so. thank you for sharing your journey!

  77. Phyllis says...

    I meditate 4-5 times a week and often use Headspace or just repeat a mantra my yoga teacher gave me. I have no idea if the mantra means anything; it sounds like gibberish but I like to think it’s Sanskrit. I usually do 10-15 minutes of yoga and then meditate in a spare room in my house that’s quiet. It’s calming and it’s me time.

  78. I knit. It’s like meditation.

    • Ruth says...

      Agreed! (Though I meditate too).

    • Phyllis says...

      I do both, too, and agree some knitting is very much like meditation.

  79. Cousa says...

    I’ve never tried meditation or any apps, but I find walking with a dog to be the best thing to ground myself and take a moment to appreciate what’s around me.
    I let the dog decide where we go and how fast we’re going. He stops and lies down, I stop and sit on the grass. We watch the birds go by, planes landing, other dogs running and kids playing. It feels timeless, I have no thoughts running in my mind.

  80. Tori says...

    Meditating has changed my life, particularly as someone who struggles with anxiety and ruminating thoughts. I started doing headspace daily last August and am still going strong with thousands of minutes logged. In January i enrolled in an 8 week meditation class through my local university where we had three hour classes once a week and even a day long silent retreat. Meditating has been one of the most challenging and frustrating journeys i have ever endeavored upon. But also, the most enriching and rewarding. Meditation is a teacher i can carry within myself every day. I strongly suggest looking into work by Jon Kabat-Zinn who first helped medicalize and Westernize mindfulness in the US. Another metaphor for the busy thoughts that i love is that of yours thoughts as people marching in a parade. Some thoughts will be so appealing you will find yourself chasing the parade down the street. Remind yourself you’re an observer, not a participant and go sit back down on the curb.

  81. Meghan says...

    Have to chime in, as I’m laying here beside my sleeping little guy whom I just meditated with to help him turn off his busy brain and relax into sleep! I can’t recommend the Meditation Podcast enough: I’ve been using it for (eep!) 6 years now, since I read about it right here in the comment section as a new mom struggling with postpartum darkness and worries. Guided meditation is a great way to help ease into the practice of sitting quietly with your thoughts, and I promise you’ll feel all zen and float-y afterward!

  82. Peggy Foster says...

    I’ve been meditating off and on for just over 7 years. I’ve just recently started up again. I definitely feel a difference in myself when I practice.

    One of the biggest (and most surprising) benefits that has come from it was losing my fear of flying. I had always been extremely afraid of the landing part of flying. It caused an enormous amount of stress and anxiety, sweating, shaking, even sometimes crying. I put up with it because I needed to, but it was something that I truly dreaded.

    Then out of the blue, about 6 months into my meditation practice, it happened… by the time I got to the baggage claim area, I realized I didn’t have my typical “freak out”. Nothing!! I was calm, I had enjoyed the flight, it was like the fear just disappeared. And ever since then, I look forward to the whole experience of flying.

    The only thing that had changed in my life at that point was meditation. It wasn’t the reason I started, but it is the reason I’ve kept with it. I hope you keep it up too!

  83. I love this post so much! I really appreciate you sharing that first trying to meditate felt more stressful than calming. I think we often endorse the idea that formal mindfulness practices should make us feel relaxed and calm when, in fact, they often bring up feelings of discomfort (sitting still in a world of over-stimulation is no easy feat!)

    I’m a Brooklyn-based children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher and mindful parenting coach, and I believe that the beauty of mindfulness lies in its accessibility; we can practice it at any time, wherever we are.

    My primary rule of thumb is to start with what you already have. Walk to work? Take a minute or two of your morning stroll to practice a walking meditation. Keep it simple!

  84. From a 24 year master meditation teacher:
    Sit down somewhere quiet.
    Close your eyes.
    Breathe naturally in and out of your nose.
    Just follow that breath.
    Repeat.
    You just meditated.

  85. Meditation and I have a complicated relationship. I love the idea of it. And, sometimes, it goes really well. I feel full of love, light, and well-being. Then, other times, I’m just annoyed because the dog is breathing too loud and the kid is shutting cabinet doors (is she getting ANOTHER snack?!) and my mind won’t even kind of simmer down for just a minute.

    I think my biggest hurdle is too little commitment. I probably need to weave meditation into my other morning/spiritual practice. I’m really looking forward to being able to gently shhhh my thoughts like they’re Kindergartners. (what a great image!)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, it’s funny, noises bothered me so much more when i was sitting down to meditate. the boys running around or alex closing a cupboard door would feel startling!

  86. I’m a Headspacer and I really like it–but honestly can go weeks without finding time or motivation to do it. Then I’ll do a bit–maybe a few days in a row, maybe every few days for a few weeks. Some days I feel a bit guilty that I’m not doing it every day, but, you know, it is what it is. I know it’s there if I need it, and some days just that helps.

  87. I started meditating in April with Headspace and am 42 days in without missing one! I find the app makes it so easy/accessible and I loved the three Basics packs. I’m definitely noticing a difference in how I feel when I’m not meditating, even though meditating itself is still a challenge!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s incredible, RWM!

  88. Mimi says...

    I’ve had several teachers encourage students to view thoughts as if watching a film reel. Somehow this works for me. The idea is to not engaging with ones own thoughts, but merely watch them “floating” on by.
    The Stop, Breathe & Think app is my current fave. You can check in with your current state of mind/emotions and you’ll be given a number of guided meditations / yoga exercise to choose from. I feel better every time!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love love love that description, mimi.

  89. Christine Hart says...

    Highly recommend Dan Harris’ s book, podcast, and app 10% Happier. Life changing. I have never bought an app for more than like 99 cents and this one is $129.00 a year and so worth it.

  90. Francesca says...

    Definitely try the 10% Happier books (one named Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which sounds perfect for you) and app. It’s the best I’ve found for establishing a habit and the most down to earth and applicable explanations for why we should and how to meditate. It addresses every reservation to or difficulty people might have with meditation and then weaves that not actual meditations. Just brilliant.

  91. Carlin Miller says...

    Two more free apps for you to try: Smiling Mind (I love an Australian accent!) and Stop, Breathe, & Think. (I didn’t develop either.) Both have lots of meditations for you to try. I try for every day. I manage to meditate most days. When I slip off my cushion for more than a couple days, I notice I worry more and I sleep less soundly and I am more easily irritated, which is nearly always all the prompting I need to return to daily practice.

  92. Sam says...

    I once took a Yoga 101 6-week class and one of the participants was brand-new to practice and kept getting frustrated, saying she wasn’t able to turn off her brain and thought that’s what she was screwing up. The instructor said that you’d never be able to turn off your brain, but you could focus on your breathing and how it felt and what was going on around you and in your body and watch your thoughts float on by. It helped us all stop being so hard on ourselves thinking we were supposed to have some specific experience or we were failing. I’ve tried to think of that when I’ve attempted mindfulness or meditation – there’s not an experience I have to have. Just taking a few minutes to breathe is amazing and stressing less about what’s supposed to come out of it seems to make me feel less stressed when i’m done. I’ve also always loved that you “practice” yoga – i’m likewise trying to think about it as having a meditation practice, It reminds me of the mantra Joanna said helps prevent her from lying in bed anxious (and which I love and try to tell myself every day), “I’m learning.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! “i’m learning” saves me every time. :)

  93. Patricia says...

    My mantra is “Give love.” I repeat it in my head for a couple of minutes every day. I also come back to it whenever I am feeling frustrated or sad or angry and need to take a minute to collect myself. If a friend is struggling with something and needs advice, I also use this. It’s a good reminder to just give love to everyone involved…including yourself.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is really beautiful.

    • Rose says...

      This made me teary. So simple :)

    • Shelby says...

      Patricia, this is pure magic. I’m going to carry this with me!

  94. Marlena says...

    I still vividly remember those first couple sits when I honestly wanted to crawl out of my skin at about the 3 minute mark. I got into a regular meditation practice about a year ago and, LORDY, what a difference it makes. I sit down with CALM and my coffee for a while until the little guy wakes up in the am. This is food for me now. If I could sit for hours, I would. That is how good it feels. I would say to anyone just starting out… just sit down. You don’t need a fancy pillow, or fancy guided voice, or candles lit, or anything like that. You just need to sit down. Even if your brain is all over, even if the only place you can sit is in a locked bathroom, just sit. Close your eyes, get curious about what your body is doing as you breathe for a few minutes. Then rinse and repeat as needed. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “This is food for me now.” Love.

  95. I’ve been using Headspace for just over a year, not every day, but consistently most days. I think I used to assume that doing it on your own had more “purity” of mind (whatever that means), but I’ve actually found that the structure helps keep me present and significantly less pre-occupied with my own ego than if I do it on my own. I only have two personal subscriptions I pay for: an annual one for Headspace and a monthly one for working out, and as far as I’m concerned, they are both WELL worth the money. It can be really daunting, especially as a real beginner, to know where to start and to feel like meditation has to be a big thing, but it takes off so much pressure to know that 10 minutes a day with a little bit of guidance can make a huge impact. The Headspace pack on Creativity is my favorite!

    • Em says...

      I’m curious what you use for working out if you’d share! : )

  96. Holly says...

    I’m a speech pathologist who works in an elementary school and a couple of years of my school district implemented Goldie Hawn’s MindUP curriculum. Now my students are so well trained that when they are starting to lose focus I’ll say “let’s take a moment” and even my kindergartners will pause, take a couple of deep breaths and regain their calm. It’s like magic.

    • Ashley says...

      I’m a counselor at a therapeutic elementary school, and I LOVE MindUP. Although I’ve found the hardest part of it is getting the teachers on board, at every school district I’ve been at! It seems that if the teachers don’t practice themselves, it is harder for them to commit the time to their students or understand the positive impact it could have. I think everyone should do it, though!

    • Samantha says...

      This is the most incredible thing! I’ve never heard of this curriculum, but it sounds like every school and workplace everwhere needs it!

  97. When I need to settle my mind from racing thoughts and worry, I mentally repeat: All will be well. When the mind is occupied on a mantra, other thoughts have difficulty entering in. Usually I am sound asleep before I’ve repeated this sentence a dozen times. I enjoy mindfulness throughout the day and appreciate any opportunity for noticing details and goodness and the beauty that surrounds us. My phone is a tool and I will never treat it like a friend.

    • Kris says...

      “My phone is a tool and I will never treat it like a friend.” I love this!

    • All will be well is my phrase too. It just popped in and now regularly pops up. Perhaps I meditate without even knowing. It is just the way my head tends to work.

  98. Rachel says...

    I recently read and liked “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.” So if you’ve tried several doorways into meditation and couldn’t get over the threshold, you might find this book the just-right way in.

  99. Tovah says...

    I have been waiting for this follow-up post! I started using the Headspace app based on how many commenters on the first post about meditation recommended it. I think I’m hooked! Today I hit 500 minutes total! Thanks for the push :)

  100. Marki says...

    I highly recommend the Meditation Oasis podcast, which has dozens of guided meditation on various topics (flowing with change, enhancing your creativity, healing, anxiety, compassion, etc.) — but my very favorite meditation is their Meditation for Birthdays, where she guides you through visualizing all of the gifts you have received in your life without even asking for them, all of the people who love you, the miracle of your birth, etc. I did that meditation on my birthday and had tears streaming down my face because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude! I go back to that one over and over again. :)

  101. A good thing I read recently about midfullness was to try to notice 5 things you can touch, 4 you can see, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell and one you can taste. Really helps with being in the moment and serves me really well in anxious situations like waiting nervously for drs appointments. I love headspace and used it a lot. Really helped me feel calm!

  102. I am using mindfulness for myself and, eventually, to help my middle school students. I love the way it helps me to be in the moment fully and completely. Life passes too fast to wish it away with my constant planning. The now is worth my notice.

  103. Shem says...

    I’ve been meditating for two months, and it is still really hard but I can see progress. For example, I downloaded the Calm app and I loved it during the first few weeks, but then I found that I didn’t need the guidance anymore. I can do it on my own. I’d say the apps are great but only pay for a month! I wasted $$ buying a 1yr membership.
    My new goal is to work on length because right now 10 minutes is my limit, I can’t sit still for longer than that yet (I have too many 5 year olds inside.)
    Have you read 10% happier by Dan Harris? It was such a great book to learn about meditation and seeing how it changed someone’s life.

    • I’ve read Dan Harris’s book and it was wonderful! I recommended it to a friend who has a high pressure job and is trying to make his peace with the ‘have more, get more’ lifestyle.